I have received a question from a reader lately. My mom is 93 years old and living at home with 24-hour care. We applied for Medicaid and have spent down her funds. We are awaiting financial approval and an opening at the nursing home to place her. Can we take out a reverse mortage on the house to keep paying for her care at home until she can be admitted? And can we be reimbursed for repairs we need to make to the house to qualify for the mortgage?
Answer: Yes, and yes. You can take out a reverse mortage, and you can get reimbursed from the mortgage for money you advance for repairs to the house. However, be very careful to document every dollar that you spend. The best approach is to lend the money to your mother and have her sign a promissory note memorializing the loan and then have her pay for the repairs herself. Otherwise, the Medicaid agency might view your payments as a gift to your mother and her reimbursement of you to be a disqualifying transfer.
Finally, with respect to the remaining reverse mortgage funds available to be drawn on when your mother moves to the nursing home, confirm with your state Medicaid agency that they don’t view these as available to your mother. They shouldn’t, but with 51 separate Medicaid programs out there, it’s best to confirm that they don’t.